an exclusive feature for grandparentslink.com*
There are so many wonderful things technology has done for us living in this modern world.
Staying connected and maintaining relationships is the most influential and tangible way technology impacts current and future generations. Many years ago, for instance, if a family moved, a child did not have an easy way to keep in touch with the friends he/she left behind. Times have changed. Our kids’ generation has the opportunity to never lose touch with any friends or acquaintances. Without missing a beat, they are incredibly savvy with their iPad and multiple devices. At an early age, they have the benefit of interacting with classmates, friends, and family. Those little hands move faster over their personal devices than the teeth they are supposed to brush! Think about it; do you ever delete a contact from your phone? I bet the answer is never!
So, do we all agree, technology is great? It brings generations together, but let’s face it – it is downright distracting. As a parent myself, the mother of two school-aged children, and one who is admittedly addicted to their own smartphone and tablet – I often wonder:
- how do we stay present for our children?
- how do we prevent kids from not becoming addicted to their devices?
I wish there was a manual for parents telling us how we should be setting the example for responsible technology use. How can we do this if we are distracted ourselves? Technology has created too many options and way too many excuses. We are less accountable than previous generations. Before smart phones, if we made plans, we had to stick to it. We didn’t have the option of texting 30 minutes before and saying we can’t make it, or we will be running late. Our parents’ generation is much less affected by this. Smart phones appeared after our parents had become adults and raised kids. Our parents (now grandparents) are generally more present than we are as parents.
The answer? It’s as simple as this: the most important thing parents can do is lead by example. Think about it….do we want our kids growing up seeing us use devices at the family dinner table? Are conversations constantly interrupted by pinging devices when our kids need our attention? The less they see us being addicted to our devices, the less addicted they will become. An exercise in parental restraint is exactly the point here.
Here are a couple of simple tips to show our children and grandchildren that we are indeed present.
- Designate a “device free” time, and not only be device free, but actually put the device away as well!
- Lead by example; instead of being entertained on a device, pick up a book, play a game, or cook something yummy together!
*From a Parent’s Point of View: The Perils of Technology, is an exclusive feature for Grandparentslink.com by Jessica Anfang, guest contributor. Jessica resides with her husband, two children and dogs in Westchester, NY, where she is an active board member for 914 Cares, a non-profit organization supporting children and families in need.